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Dear Dale:

What Appears to Be Brick May Be Just a Good Illusion

February 02, 1986

Question: My wife and I visited some of the model condominiums in a project in Torrance recently, and we were fascinated by the gas-burning fireplaces and raised hearths, which we thought were made of used bricks. The salesperson said the bricks were fakes, but we've never seen any fakes that looked this real. We asked her what company made them, but she didn't know. I have seen Z-bricks (in fact, we installed some of these in our enclosed patio area), but these are different. Do you have any idea who makes these real-looking fakes?

Answer: There are several companies that make good-looking brick replicas, and some even use particles of clay to give them a realistic appearance.

The hearths and fireplaces you saw were probably constructed of plywood and covered with brick veneers, such as that manufactured by K.S.H. Inc. in St. Louis, Mo.

Their product is called K-Lux, and the half-inch veneers are made of gypsum and fiber glass in 4-by-8-inch rectangles that do, in fact, look just like used bricks. They are applied to dry wall or plywood or other smooth surfaces with a K-Lux brick adhesive that dries to resemble real mortar in either black or the usual mortar color. The adhesive sets up in about 45 minutes and takes about 24 hours to actually cure.

In the case of the raised hearth and fireplace, I would guess that the forms were covered with plywood and then faced with the brick veneers. In contrast to some veneers, K-Lux manufactures corner veneers, which further enhances its realism.

Tony Nelms, national sales manager for K.S.H., points out that K-Lux is easy to work with. The brick veneers can be cut by scoring with a knife and then snapping apart. And they're lightweight: 30 brick veneers weigh about nine pounds.

Nelms says they're available at many home centers, including Angel's, National Lumber and Lumber City.

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